The War on Drugs: Wagonwheel Blues (Longtime Listener)

 |   |  <1 min read

The War on Drugs: Arms Like Boulders
The War on Drugs: Wagonwheel Blues (Longtime Listener)

Some music is purely functional: music in airports; massage music, Kiwi backyard-bbq reggae etc.

This one by a US band I know nothing about is driving music -- annoying inner city stop-start or highway freedom -- and comes off in places like amphetamine-fuelled and wordy Dylan '65 (or more correctly, Butch Hancock when he was doing that style, if you get the reference).

The singer has a whiny, nasal and wind-blown folk-rock speak-sing voice, the band crank along like Explosions in the Sky creating ragged r'n'b backdrops or sonic landscapes, and although I can't recall a single chorus or song title I have been playing this for weeks in the car and have returned to it frequently between other albums.

They even shave off a little early Springsteen and early Tom Petty, but mostly they sound like a bunch of people who have listened to Highway 61 Revisited quite a lot -- but like noisy guitars and freewheelin' organ. I even like the track Show Me The Coast which is just a 10 minute Velvet Underground chord'n'jangle with the barely audible singer somewhere at the far end of the room. Great played loud when you are stuck at the lights.

I may never hear any more from these people, but I am liking this very much in the present tense. 

Share It

Your Comments

mark - Sep 8, 2009

Hi Graham - i have always had a liking for alt country, 70s Springsteen and jangly guitar bands and so, on the strength of this one listen and your review, i have just down loaded this LP from iTunes. Tonight it will be "walking music" in my headphones as i meander home. cheers as always. Mark
P.S. Does one say "downloaded an LP"????

Chris - Sep 15, 2009

the guitarist for The War On Drugs is Kurt Vile (yep, real name) who released a compilation of early stuff on the Constant Hitmaker album and his new record Childish Prodigy is due out on Matador early October. I just interviewed him today - great album, interesting guy. The new record is closer to TWOD - highly recommend it! The main singer/writer of TWOD is playing in his band The Violators on tour also...

Relic - Dec 12, 2014

just as I finally find a modern record that suits V8 car trips, “Lost in the dream”–by The War on Drugs sans Vile; it turns out to be somewhat popular, oh well no accounting for etc.

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

Elliott Smith: An Introduction to Elliott Smith (Kill Rock Stars/Southbound)

Elliott Smith: An Introduction to Elliott Smith (Kill Rock Stars/Southbound)

It seems curious that the intelligent, melodic and very dead Elliott Smith hasn't engendered a cult following: his albums were consistently good and the circumstances of his death (if it was... > Read more

The Green Pajamas: November (Green Monkey)

The Green Pajamas: November (Green Monkey)

Because Elsewhere has long been convinced of the special musical gifts of Seattle's Jeff Kelly -- whose band Green Pajamas long parlayed a smart twist on the Beatles' Rain/Paperback Writer period,... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

John Niland: Barnett Lane (Eelman/Jayrem)

John Niland: Barnett Lane (Eelman/Jayrem)

Here's a surprise: I hadn't heard of pianist Niland since his Inside album of the mid Eighties which he recorded with drummer Ross Burge and bassist Rob Mahoney in Wellington's Marmalade Studios.... > Read more

10 INFLUENTIAL JAZZ ALBUMS IN MY COLLECTION: The shape of me to come

10 INFLUENTIAL JAZZ ALBUMS IN MY COLLECTION: The shape of me to come

During the Covid-19 lockdown, Facebook was awash with people being asked to choose their favourite albums, books and so on. And I too was there at the invitation of Rodney Hewson, a music man... > Read more